Civil War Soldiers' Letters

Introduction to Letters, Transcriptions, Stories

One hundred and fifty years ago on August 4, 1862 President Lincoln issued a request for 300,000 additional troops from the Northern states to step forward and serve the Union in the American Civil War.  The men of Franklin County answered that call by enlisting in nine-month regiments.  Some of the letters written by two men, George Frederick Ziegler I from Greencastle and Samuel W. North from the Mercersburg area were kept by several generations of each family.   The Ziegler letters were donated to Allison-Antrim Museum by the late David O. Nicodemus and his son John in 2004.  David married Anne Ziegler, granddaughter of G. Fred Ziegler I.  The North letters were acquired by the former Greencastle Civil War Round Table, which donated its full collection to Allison-Antrim Museum on July 9, 2003.  A third soldier from this area was Joseph A. Davison, Antrim Township, who enlisted for three years after President Lincoln’s April 1861 call for 75,000 volunteers, after the fall of Fort Sumter.  The Davison family still has Joseph’s Civil War letters but has been generous enough to share them with the museum.


(Year 2012)

Upon the commemoration of the sesquicentennial of the Civil War, it seems most fitting that the content of the letters of these three men should be made easily available to historians, universities, authors, museums, and anyone generally interested in history.  Over the next nine months, the transcription of each letter will appear chronologically in the Echo Pilot, the week closest to the date of each letter.  Each of the letters has been transcribed using or not using punctuation as Ziegler, Davison, and North wrote the letters, including the use of a comma for a contraction in place of an apostrophe.  The Ziegler and North letters start and stop with the muster-in and muster-out of the men. The Davison letters start on August 12, 1862 about one year after enlisting.  After each transcription is published, it will be posted on the museum’s website.


Ziegler’s father George W. Ziegler was one of the wealthiest individuals in Greencastle.  Along with the wealth came a degree of networking advantages, as is still true today.  Through connections, George W. was able to get his son Fred assigned to a clerk’s position with the rank of Sergeant Major at the Headquarters of the 126th PA Volunteers, a rather “safe” job.  Would not any parent, if able, do the same thing today for their children?


North’s family came from the farming community surrounding the town of Mercersburg.  With no special considerations given, Pvt. Samuel North enlisted in Co. C, 126 PA Volunteers.


Among others, Ziegler and North mentioned the same two men in their first letters (written three days apart) – Gen. Samuel Sturgis, from Shippensburg, was commander of the Washington defenses and Maj. Hershberger of Chambersburg, was in charge of drilling and schooling the officers of the 126th. 


Read carefully over the next nine months to compare their points of view of the war and to see what happens to both rather “green” and naïve soldiers of the 126th PA V in their first letters home.   This column is entitled “Soldier’s Letter,” which is what was handwritten by soldiers on the envelopes of many of their letters sent home.


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Letters Listing

1862-08-25 North       Camp near Cloud's Mill, VA  
1862-08-28 Ziegler     Camp Staunton
1862-09-01 North        Camp Wade
1862-09-05 North        Arlington Heights
1862-09-08 North        Camp near Sharpsburg
1862-09-29 North         Camp near Sharpsburg
1862-09-29 Ziegler       Camp near Sharpsburg
1862-10-11 Davison        Camp near Sharpsburg
1862-10-12 Snively          George Besore Snively
1862-10-14 North            Camp near Sharpsburg
1862-10-17 Emerson       Rev. Dr. Edwin Emerson
1862-10-18 North             Samuel North (soldier story)
1862-10-24 Bushey          Franklin A. Bushey (soldier story)
1862-11-01 North               Camp on the March
1862-11-20 North               Camp of the 126th
1862-12-01 North               Camp near Falmouth
1862-12-07 Ziegler             Camp near Falmouth
1862-12-12 Ziegler               Near Fredericksburg
1862-12-15 Dixon                 Camp at Fredericks
1862-12-18 North                 Camp on Battlefield Fredericksburg
1862-12-23 Dixon                 Camp near Belle Plain Landing
1863-01-02 Koons                John T. Koons (soldier story)
1863-01-12 North                  Camp on the 126th
1863-01-16 Davison              William H. Davison (soldier story)
1863-01-26 North                  Camp near Fredericksburg
1863-01-30 Snively                Scott Kennedy Snively (soldier story)
1863-02-06 2nd Cav USCT   U.S. Colored Troop Regiments
1863-02-13 2nd inf USCT      2nd Infantry Regiment USCT
1863-02-20 Smith                  Meshach Smith (soldier story)
1863-02-27 25th Reg USCT  25th Regiment USCT
1863-03-06 Ziegler                George Frederick Ziegler
1863-03-17 North                   Camp near Falmouth
1863-03-20 Henderson        Robert "Scott" B. Henderson
1863-03-27 Shipe                   Harrison Shipe of the 45th
1863-04-14 Maria                   Maria to Fred Ziegler
1863-04-15 North                   Camp near Falmouth
1863-04-19 Gossert                Gossert death notification
1863-05-07 North                   Last North Letter
1863-05-07 Rupley                 Davison notification of Rupley's death
1863-05-26 Editorial               Editorial-Reception on Saturday
1863-05-29 Editorial               Missavy
1863-06-05 Rebecca              Rebecca Rupley
1863-06-12 Shorts                   Henry Shorts
1863-06-22 Rihl                       Corporal William Rihl
1864-02-03 McGrew              Alexander McGrew
1864-02-13 Davison               Joseph Alexander Davison